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Dean’s Hairdresser for African-Americans

How would we like Dartmouth students to be known? Certainly for intelligence, but how about for resourcefulness, independence, and originality? We can stipulate, as Chris Rock describes in a very entertaining movie (Good Hair), that black folks have special haircare needs. And we can agree that the State of New Hampshire is overwhelmingly white. So what are Dartmouth’s African-American students to do about haircare? It seems, this:

Black Hair Care.jpg

The Dean of the College is funding a hairdresser? Let’s ignore the surrounding community and just focus on the College. How many African-Americans are to be found inside the Dartmouth bubble? There are only 20 black or African-American faculty members, but the College is attracting a fast-growing number of African-American students:

Black Student Numbers.jpg

Do we really need a dean to organize haircutting for 426 able, thoughtful people? Was it not possible for the leaders of one of the African-American student organizations to approach a local haircutting emporium and suggest that they hire a specialist — and in exchange, the students would promise their patronage to that establishment? Capitalism at its best, don’t you think?

In fact, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL) has been hard at work on this question for many years. I recall a a discussion at least a decade ago with a well coiffed student who cited the African-American hairdresser as one of OPAL’s singular achievements. Oh my. What a lesson to be learned from a Dartmouth education: when you have a need, just go to the administration for help. Who needs to take personal responsibility for a problem? After all, one day, there will be a government program for everything.

Addendum: In a bad previous era, before the arrival in Hanover of Super-AD Harry Sheehy, the rugby team, being only a club, was not allowed to train in Floren. The fieldhouse was only for varsity teams, according to feckless AD Josie Harper. So team members got creative: they approached me, and, appealing to my alumni pride (they were perennial Ivy champs, after all), they cleverly offered me a ton of free sideline advertising, and even a little dough, all for the right to train at my health club with our best strength coach. How could I say no? Those independent-minded, resourceful ruggers will go far.


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